Roberts’s poem, “The Great Realisation,” was released on YouTube on April 29 and has been viewed tens of millions of times. It has also been translated independently into multiple languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian. A simple rhyming tale read as a bedtime story, it takes on heavy themes — corporate greed, familial alienation, the pandemic — and somehow comes up with a happy ending. Set in an unspecified future, the poem looks back on pre-pandemic life and imagines a “great realisation” sparked by the scourge.
Before the pandemic, Tomos Roberts read his poems to crowds around London who, he confesses, were often more interested in what they were drinking than what he was saying. Now, hunkered down and out of work, he’s found a far more attentive audience that stretches around the world — and includes people who haven’t yet reached drinking age.